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Being Innovative: Lessons Learned from the Practice of Technology Commercialization

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

From Entrepreneurship Education to Market

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.252.1 - 25.252.13



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Paper Authors


William A Kline Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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Bill Kline is professor of engineering management and is currently serving as interim Dean of the Faculty at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. Kline has a Ph.D. degree from the University of Illinois in mechanical engineering and worked in industry for many years before joining Rose-Hulman. Kline was Co-founder and Chief Technical Officer at Montronix, a company providing monitoring systems for industrial machinery. At Rose-Hulman, his professional interests include design, innovation, systems engineering, quality, and manufacturing systems.

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Thomas W. Mason Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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Tom Mason is Professor Emeritus of economics and engineering management at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, where he has been teaching since 1972. He was founding Head of the Engineering Management Department and its M.S. degree program and founding Vice President for Entrepreneurship & Business Planning of Rose-Hulman Ventures and has also served Rose-Hulman as Head of Humanities and Social Sciences, Vice-President for Administration and Finance, Head of Engineering Management, and Interim Vice President for Development. While on a three-year leave from Rose-Hulman, Mason served as CFO and CEO of a 140-person network management systems business. In 2007-08, he used his sabbatical to study entrepreneurship in Indiana and assist start-ups as Educator/Entrepreneur in Residence at Indiana Venture Center. He has been Advisor/Director for several high tech firms and has been involved in national efforts to integrate entrepreneurship and engineering education. Since his retirement from full-time teaching, Mason has co-authored an updated edition of Forecasting and Management of Technology, teaches part-time, continues his research and writing on innovation and entrepreneurship, and works in an advisory capacity with several emerging firms. Mason received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Pittsburgh and his B.A. in economics from Geneva College.

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Brian Charles Dougherty Rose-Hulman Ventures

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Brian Dougherty has spent the last 20 years working in various parts of the product development cycle. His early career focused on product design verification and manufacturing test engineering support for new products while the last 12 years has been focused on developing the new products themselves. Dougherty specializes in fast-paced development within the innovation space, and has documented how the project management practices within the innovation space should differ from classical techniques. As the Engineering Manager for Rose-Hulman Ventures, Dougherty fosters an environment where 60 engineers can develop functional proof of client concepts in a way that is more financially viable than traditional engineering firms. In addition to his managerial duties, Dougherty also acts as the lead engineer for various projects, and has most recently been leading a small team of engineers to develop ground breaking neurosurgical tools. Dougherty combines a formal education and natural creative design skills with a B.S. in electrical engineering, a M.S. in engineering management, and a lifetime of tinkering and inventing.

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Being Innovative - Lessons Learned from the Practice of Technology CommercializationAbstract Innovation has emerged as a critical priority for all types of organizations to ensureprosperity and future success. In this time of sluggish economic performance, financial austerity,and intense global competition, every organization, including higher education, needs toimplement processes of innovation that deliver more value from every available resource.Engineers must be the leaders of this implementation. Despite the attention to innovation, philosophies and best practices of ‘being innovative’ arestill emerging. Just as the philosophies and academic discipline of leadership have emerged overthe last decades, it is believed that innovation will follow the same path. These concepts andphilosophies will be developed from practicing innovation stage development projects andobserving and recording best practices from successful outcomes. A technology commercialization program is described where corporate partners bringconcepts, research results, and intellectual property and teams of faculty, staff, and studentsdevelop designs, models, and prototypes as part of the commercialization process. Over ten yearof operation, the program has worked with hundreds of industrial clients in a broad range ofindustry segments. These projects come after the research stage and fall in the critical innovationstage of development where technologies are prepared for success in the marketplace. Throughthese projects, several guiding principles and best practices have emerged for the process ofinnovation. The paper summarizes eight ‘best practices’ learned from these innovation stage projects. Ina broader sense, the best practices are appropriate not only for technology commercializationprojects but serve as guidelines of how to ‘be innovative’ for both individuals and organizations.These eight best practices will be supported both by current literature in innovation managementand the experiences of a decade of innovation and education success.

Kline, W. A., & Mason, T. W., & Dougherty, B. C. (2012, June), Being Innovative: Lessons Learned from the Practice of Technology Commercialization Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21012

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